Thursday, February 02, 2006

Another Top Blog "award"... and bemused by the State of the Union...

Thanks much more to you folks than to me, “Contrary Brin” has been listed by the Internet Writing Journal as “outstanding.” Along with blogs by luminaries like Dave Barry, Scott Adams, Neil Gaiman, Chris Moore and others.

“It is no secret that authors write some of the very best blogs. Our editors have compiled a list of author blogs that they believe are truly outstanding. Although the styles and subject matter of the author blogs vary widely, they all share two important qualities: they are all frequently updated and interesting to read. “http://www.internetwritingjournal.com/authorblogs/

Maybe I shouldn’t have offered you all that link. I’m sure that some of those folks are more diverting than I am. Still, I doubt that many of them are more... well... contrary.

And now...

"Hindsight alone is not wisdom. And second-guessing is not a strategy." -- President Bush during his State of the Union Address, January 2006.

Um... true enough. On the other hand, looking back at an endless litany of wretched blunders -- stretching back to the Great Shame betrayal of Iraq in 1991 -- is relevant to the issue of credibility! Hindsight has plenty of bearing on whether we should want the same people who made those blunders (or worse, planned exactly what happened) to be in charge of deciding our next “strategy.”

I mean, is he saying that a nation of 300 millions, the best educated in history, doesn't have the right to punish relentless blunderers by saying "enough! Step aside and let some adults try to clean this up?"

Others are saying this.

"It just wasn't credible to hear him talk about making America more secure and honoring our troops or making America energy independent or making health care more affordable without hearing him explain why he's done just the opposite for the last five years," said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

As for "breaking our addiction on imported oil..." um... this from the fellows who savagely cut energy and conservation research? Like they savagely cut the Border Patrol as almost their first act in office, and now want to make "retaking our borders" an issue? Nothing could show how severly our press has deteriorated, than the way facts like these go unmentioned.

-------------

Ah, but congratulate me, boys and girls. I have followed my own advice. I am now a ...republican!

Did I do this for the reasons I gave earlier, during the discussion of gerrymandering? (In order to have a meaningful vote, in an era when the legislatures have connived to deny us any chance for one, everyone should join the party of their district... and thus at least have some choice in the primaries. The only choice they will ever have.)

Or is that just rationalization for the trend that seems to grab all white males my age? Was I drawn by various blandishments and character traits? Hey you kids, get off my lawn! It's MY money! Goll-durn French....

Gilbert & Sullivan said it best:

“I always answered my party's call,
and I never bothered thinking for myself at all!”

35 comments:

reason said...

David,
let us know what the pre-selection choice is like. (If it is too horrendous maybe you should nominate yourself!) And what happens when you try to talk sense to your "fellow" republicans.-)

Rob Perkins said...

He'll pull it off if he doesn't consider himself the leader of the caucus from day one. First, get your companions to accept that you genuinely like them! Then build a relationship of trust under which the closest new idea can flower. Then offer the idea. If your friend rejects it, continue the friendship on the basis that the person is more important to you than the thoughts of the person.

Then, even if you never bend him to your way of thinking, you've planted seeds against the worst demagogueries.

Have fun at the caucuses, David!

Rob Perkins said...

Y'know, I actually didn't bother with the SOTU this year, which is kind of a first for me, after 10 years of listening to them. I kind of figured that no matter what he actually said, most of it would be in code, his party hacks would claim it was the "BEST SPEECH EVAR DOOD" and his opposites would bemoan that all the initiatives and policies proposed would spell the early death of the Republic.

And at this point, I'm not actually that well-predisposed towards the President, not that interested in removing the sunset provisions from the PATRIOT Act, interested in us doing things in Iraq neither side is really proposing, etc...

Mitchell J. Freedman said...

David,

When I was floating among the Reform and Green Parties in the 90s, I was also showing up at a few Republican events in Orange County (where I lived at the time), due to a mutual friend here and there. I joked, with some limited seriousness, about joining the Republicans and creating the Robert LaFollette caucus. Tom Fuentes of the OC Republican Party thought that was quite funny, while most stared and asked, "Who's that?" (meaning La Follette) I guess the name sounds too "French" now, sadly enough.

Maybe if enough DLC type Dems, who tend to be more rational than a Bill Frist or Rick Santorum, and more consistent in seeking less government involvement in terms of economics and culture, did join the Republicans, it might improve our political discourse and policy making.

I realize, though, that I have to stay with the Dems in order to have the Dems reclaim their New Deal (which is really La Follette, after all) mantle. We both have our work cut out for us, don't we?

Pale Rider said...

Hello David,

I just started reading your blog this year, and I love it. I am not a "forum junkie" at all, but I'm hooked on yours. Plus I love your books.

From what I know of "you," I think you should be (if you aren't, which it seems from the Iran blog you aren't) in some advising role, I think you should be.

So, thank you for giving to us.

Hawker Hurricane said...

David, my favorite WTF moment of the SotU was "America is addicted to foriegn oil". Well, duh, but since when does the drug pusher tell his 'client' that he's using too much?
Bush (and company) have been the #1 pushers of Foriegn Oil for a long time now... and now he's going to say we're addicts? Are we running out of oil and he's looking to change our addiction or what?

grendelkhan said...

You're wondering what will come of the 'oil addiction' idea? I can save you the wait--precisely what's come of the promised mission to Mars and hydrogen economy of State of the Union speeches past. Hell, the White House has already recanted the claim that we'll be reducing our oil consumption. Don't want to make the Saudis nervous or anything.

Hell, have a look at Carter, 26 years ago: " The crises in Iran and Afghanistan have dramatized a very important lesson: Our excessive dependence on foreign oil is a clear and present danger to our Nation's security. The need has never been more urgent. At long last, we must have a clear, comprehensive energy policy for the United States."

Yeah, that was twenty-six years of energy policy well spent.

Woozle said...

I had an interesting thought the other day. Someone needs to run for public office on a Blogger platform!

"If elected, I pledge to keep a daily journal online and to continue doing so for the entirety of my term in office, regardless of any threats to myself, my family, or my popularity figures. I shall relentlessly document every facet of how your government is and is not working, including my own errors of understanding and judgment. I resolve that I will list any and all requests not to discuss certain items or topics in my online journal, as long as they are not classified or purely personal. I do solemnly swear that I will maintain, at all times, one or more web pages where my constituents may comment in depth on my job performance, public activities, or any other aspect of my professional conduct."

I think I'd vote for someone who said that, regardless of whether I agreed with their ideology.

Kagehi said...

PZ posted some comments on the speech to:

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/02/i_guess_bush_really_didnt_mean.php

and

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/02/president_panders_to_antimanim.php

Basically, Bush wants to:

1. Evicerate biology research.
2. Reduce our dependence on Saudi oil from 17% to 9%.
3. Retrain what I presume are English, Phys Ed and Home Ec teachers to teach science and math, which is much easier once you eliminate all that nasty anti-fundimentalist science...
4. Who the hell knows what else.

And he is going to pay for all of it by giving big business permanent tax cuts and spending even more money we don't actually have from the federal budget.

Gosh! I don't know why I never saw how great a leader he was until now.... lol

Rob Perkins said...

Kagehi,

(someday, I'll spell that consistently and correctly!)

PZ doesn't have my attention any longer. While he made cogent points in his response to the Card essay, his attitude about it was arrogantly contemptuous, and he attracted people to his comments section who would probably just kill me if there was a shortage of food and/or fuel, and someone wanted to make religious minorities a scapegoat.

He has contempt for the masses, in other words. And I don't have time to follow unpleasant elitists around.

Stefan Jones said...

Comedy Relief:

So, you think Bush's concerns about human/animal hybrids are unfounded?

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8258549845833126926

Pale Rider said...

grendelkhan said...
"Hell, the White House has already recanted the claim that we'll be reducing our oil consumption. Don't want to make the Saudis nervous or anything."

If Bush really meant to reduce our oil dependence, it would have to be covert so as not to alarm the Saudis.

Francis said...

Rob,

PZ doesn't have my attention any longer. While he made cogent points in his response to the Card essay, his attitude about it was arrogantly contemptuous

When someone writes an essay supporting one side of an argument that makes very clear that they haven't even done a basic google on the issue, do you expect respect from the other side? When their essay is not only so arrogant and contemptuous as to think that research and checking facts is a waste of time, but arrogant enough to think they have a leg to stand on when directing bombastic rhetoric about the failings of the arguments of others? Why do you think such an essay deserves anything more than an arrogant debunking and dismissal? (Or to be completely ignored if written by someone with no standing - which Card is not).

And when the side they are supporting has had its arguments disected in court, had its arguments destroyed, and then been summarised as breathtaking inanity by the judge, I almost fail to see how it could be worse. Unless the other side in the argument has a stated goal of overthrowing secular society. Oh, wait...

I fail to see many ways that an essay not advocating violent actions or racial or sexual discrimination and that is not chock-full of intentional lies could be more deserving of contempt. Perhaps you would care to enlighten me?

(Although I'm not arguing about some of the more extreme commentators on PZ).

Tony Fisk said...

To reiterate what I said at WC:

"America's government is addicted to oil imported from unstable parts of the world. The best way to break this addiction is by importing it from stable parts of the world (like North Alaskan wildlife refuges)."


There is a social anti pattern called (among other things) 'Setting the Bozo Bit'. It usually refers to making the initial assumption that the boss is an idiot because they clearly don't understand what you're doing (despite what others have clearly thought) and leaving it at that.

Quite unfair not to reassess their behaviour from time to time.

Alas, I find that for some people, setting the bozo bit is quite appropriate!

I was over George a long time ago.

Rob Perkins said...

Francis -- "do you expect respect from the other side?"

Yes. I expect civility and cordial dialogue from everyone.

Myers' tone set the stage for expressions of religious bigotry an adult won't stand for.

And he didn't redact, correct, or chide his listeners, even after the comments became literally outrageous.

Therefore, I don't feel obligated to give him my time. I don't think he's a wise man.

Francis said...

Rob,

How do you politely say "That entire article was dangerous tripe, and wrong in almost every detail and here's why."? It's not something I've ever managed or seen anyone manage. ("You are partly wrong" is one of the necessary foundations of discourse - but wrong in almost every detail to the point that a quick google would clear up a lot of preconceptions is beyond me).

(I agree that the blog looks entirely unmoderated and somewhat nasty.)

And I trust you've give up on Card long ago if civility and cordial dialogue is what you care about.

Tony Fisk said...

BTW: I forgot to congratulate you on the blog plug, David.

And good luck with the Republican caw'ncuss. Remember to take some buns to give to the elephants.

More on project Witness via WC

Rob Perkins said...

I don't follow Card around in lockstep. He praises movies I don't like and isn't perfect by any stretch.

However, it is easier to view his articles through a lens of civility. Card doesn't pull it off all the time, and neither do I. Only human, etc.

But the answer to your question is to phrase your response this way: "I disagree in almost every detail, and fear that what you've written will empower some pretty evil people. Here's why."

It's not like this sort of thing is actually difficult, is it?

Julia said...

Ah, so you join the party for the same reasons I had, just as I'm seriously considering bolting, at least for now.

My plan at the moment is to look at a sample ballot for the primary online, and determine if there are any candidates I feel very strongly about voting against. If not, I'm going to reserve my "primary voice" to sign the petition to get Kinky Friedman on the ballot for governor. (I'm guessing we end up with 4-6 candidates come November. I know someone rounding up petitions for a Green Party candidate, and maybe the Libertarians will try to field someone. Those three, plus the Rs, the Ds and That Woman, would bring us up to 6.)

Francis said...

However, it is easier to view his articles through a lens of civility. Card doesn't pull it off all the time, and neither do I. Only human, etc.

Indeed. Card you can filter down by ignoring his rhetoric (and the fact that he is using a description of the opponents of ID and creationism provided by the creationist lobby and kept by the IDers).

But from reading the Card article, you need to put that lens of civility there yourself. And the lens only holds up because there is very little in Card's essay of substance.

PZ on the other hand gets more and more damning the more filters you apply. That is because you know you are applying filters and yet the more filters you apply, the closer it comes to an evidence backed demolition of the ignorant. The stronger the lens you apply, the hotter PZ appears because the greater proportion of what is left is fact.

And I question who is more contemptuous of their readers - the person who provides evidence to say that someone is wrong or the person who doesn't think that their readers are worthy of having a fact check done before a massive column is written.

But the answer to your question is to phrase your response this way: "I disagree in almost every detail, and fear that what you've written will empower some pretty evil people. Here's why."

Ah, post-modernism at work. There is a huge difference between saying "I disagree in almost every detail" and "You are wrong in almost every detail". PZ was saying the latter and providing evidence for it (something Card singularly failed to do). You can only legitimately do that when there is a massive body of evidence pointing overwhelmingly one way.

"I disagree with" is not the same as "You are wrong about". Would you say that you should never call someone wrong?

Rob Perkins said...

Francis, that's polite rhetoric, not post-modernism. That sort of rhetorical style has been in use for centuries. Have a look at http://www.baen.com/library/palaver4.htm, which is a discussion of the aftereffects of copyright law as implemented today. At no point does the speechmaker in those speeches call anyone any names. He addresses the ideas, not the people spouting them. He gets to be right, and he also gets to be friends with his opposites.

I did the same thing last night at dinner presenting what was essentially PZ Myers' ideas to my brother, who thinks ID is science. He was not convinced, but if I'd called him an idiot for believing what he does about something that isn't science, how many more conversations do you suppose he'd be willing to have on the subject?

Lash out with rage, and you end the conversation. You get to be correct in a room of angry people, all of whom agree with you, while noone else is listening. If you're left in the minority, you're an angry minority. If in the majority, you're an unreasoned mob.

Myers' followup crowd shows all the signs of being an unreasoned mob. I won't caucus with such a group; I can get the same info from wiser people without being told my religion is the imagination of frenzied minds, and watching others go "yeah, got THAT right! Ugh!"

Kagehi said...

Let me get this straight Rob... You are offended by what represents a lot of biologists on PZ's site, who having had nuts lob rocks at the walls for weeks, not being civil enough to invite the barbarian hordes in for a cup of tea?

Seriously, if you paided any damn attention over there you would realize that people have a contempt for science education, pity for those that are deluded by it and incensed to the point of wanting to hit something when confronted with someone whose idea of discussion of a subject amounts to repeating the same invalid arguments over and over again, even after repeatedly pointed to sources that refute them.

Yes, occationally PZ goes a bit over the top and tends to respect Dawkin's more than scientists that *still* think they can be kind and gentle at admonishing fools, then wander back to the lab to pretend someone isn't trying to light the room on fire with a torch while waving a pitch fork. He does also make a point to mention those individuals he "doesn't" have a problem with. He has clearified his position when challenged for making a statement that seemed to include the masses, as you say. And you get occational people that think even PZ doesn't go far enough every place. That they haven't shown up here yet hardly means PZ has some special signing bonus set up to encourage them to post.

But your welcome to stick your head in the sand and pretend that being "nice" to the masses, who don't have a clue, won't just provide the lunitics with the ability to say, "See, if we are wrong, why don't they challenge everyone this agressively, but only attack *us*?" Never the less, one of his most recent posts admits to the fact that maybe being too agressive may make unneeded enemies from potential allies.

That said, I doubt even he or those posters you mention actually advocate telling family members they are idiots or agressively attacking people that are merely clueless, even if they might feel like it occationally. Rather, their agressive stance and PZ's is directed at *authority* figures that try to promote teaching the irrational. That and people exagerate when annoyed, often making statements that are intended to emphasize irritation, not a statement of policy. If you caught PZ or anyone else saying something that agressive in a real speach to the general public and *not* on a blog that is dedicated to their views, then you might have a point. Otherwise your reading more into such statements that exists, ignoring the instances where they say different things and acting too bloody thin skinned. Maybe you have also simply never had to directly put up with the sort of attacks they have too. Either way, I think you are being overly sensitive and cutting yourself off from what is certainly a far better source for scientific information that Card's site or for that matter, forgive me saying so, but its true, here.

If you really think PZ's site has an unreasoned mob on it, then you really are not reading what is posted at all.

Rob Perkins said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rob Perkins said...

(Deleted comment had first-draft jetsam left in it...)

First, where on earth did you get the idea that I have my head in the sand about Evolution or Intelligent Design?

David Brin (a lettered scientist!) manages to convey the same information and bring me to the same place Myers wants me to be in re Intelligent Design. (Leaving aside for the moment that I was already in that place.)But he does so without:

"The likes of Faulkner, Hemingway, and Steinbeck were anything but shallow, but neither were they damned by a mindless religion; Card is so damned."

"When a person finds Joseph Smith more convincing than Charles Darwin, there really is no need to go into the details. They're just mad I tell you. Mad"

"I think its safe to say that you've revealed his real name: Orson Scott Canard."

"what a DUMBASS!"

But this is also an opportunity to thank *you* for your words, because, well, I actually took time to read the blog entry this time more closely, and had to read the whole thing before reaching: "It's sad to see that in addition to being a hateful homophobe [...]"

...which itself is evidence of:

1) bigotry, organized at the end of an essay by someone who writes with skill. That comment colors the rest of it sour for me. First get your scientist friends hopped up about a nasty essay which doesn't serve your causes. Then drop in that he wasn't worth listening to anyway. Well, then, why write the essay in the first place? Just call him a homophobe at the top and have done.

2) fallacy, in that the charge of homophobia in that essay is completely beside the point, and is designed to appeal to emotion, in addition to being factually false. That's a non sequitur and demagoguery, all from a "rational scientist" in 11 words or less. Well done, PZ! Way to bring those ignorant Mormons over to your point of view!

That, and the anti-religious/Christian rantings in that cute quotation Javascript thing in the left column. Just enough for someone who supposes God might be real to frown and turn away. Which works against his causes, unless his causes are to jeer at people who approach him harboring a belief in God.

So, *logically*, could I ever actually be with them? No. It has nothing to do with how I felt about it. (Mostly, I just feel tired about it.)

They'd throw me out of the room as fast as any Free Christian would, as soon as it became evident I was a practicing Mormon. Since I don't really have time to walk into a place and be thrown out of it, I'll pass. There are biologists at BYU who probably have blogs.

So, there it is: Myers' contempt prevented me from seeing his competence. And, since this is the third time I've said the same thing, I think I'm done saying it. I suppose I'm in for some more snarky last words from somebody. I hope they'll sit on their anger and make a point, though. I'm going to use my time to play a video game or do my taxes or install Windows or something.

Francis said...

Rob,
The only comment you have from PZ directly to support your case is the one about the Hateful Homophobe. I agree that that was completely irrelevant and uncalled for. However, it is the only statement I can see in the whole essay that aims directly at Card and is irrelevant. Everything else he says is both relevant and supported by the evidence. Which stands in a stark contrast to Card.

Possibly this is just the circles I move in - most of us are humble enough to know we don't know it all and respectful enough of each other to know that there are things that others know that we don't. Therefore, being told that we are wrong on facts - with evidence - is nothing either strange or insulting.

All the other comments you have are from the comments section - which I agree is ugly. I hadn't paid much attention to the sidebar- and agree after looking at it that the man needs to put down his copy of Dawkins.

But I still fail to understand why, when one side makes a detailed and supported case that veers over into the personal you consider that to be showing greater contempt for the readership than a wooly, unsupported and wrong case where the author hasn't even bothered to do a quick google to check if he has any of his facts right (and would still be insulting if it was right).

(I would also note that contempt for promenant people supporting ID appears to be very strongly correlated with time spent dealing with them.)

Rob Perkins said...

No, really, the tone of the whole essay, while presenting cogent and important points, is itself self defeating.

I don't even care in this context what Card wrote that set him off. What I care about is that his extremely reasonable stuff is obscured by the fallacy in his rhetoric. He gets to be right. Yay. He's a prig about it. Boo. Especially since any of the people in power who need to hear people like him aren't listening *to him*.

I won't defend Card's lack of rigor on the subject. I can't even remember if I've tried before, since the varied expressions of ID proponents don't animate me, and I don't care about them. I'd much rather "embrace and extend" the ideas in ID, and get a chance to formulate some good science experiments.

My notions about origins are not founded on pinhead-angel-counting, and aren't predicated on a Creationist's rightness. If it's not taught properly in public schools, I'll teach my kids myself.

Stefan Jones said...

A few days back, the New York Times ran an article describing an effort by PR folks at NASA to silence a climatologist concerned about global warming.

In a follow-up story, the Times reports that NASA's head is calling for "openness", but also reports that more NASA personnel came forward with stories of intimidation and interference:

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/04/science/04climate.html

This anecdote totally blew me away:

The Big Bang memo came from Mr. Deutsch, a 24-year-old presidential appointee in the press office at NASA headquarters whose résumé says he was an intern in the "war room" of the 2004 Bush-Cheney re-election campaign. A 2003 journalism graduate of Texas A&M, he was also the public-affairs officer who sought more control over Dr. Hansen's public statements.

In October 2005, Mr. Deutsch sent an e-mail message to Flint Wild, a NASA contractor working on a set of Web presentations about Einstein for middle-school students. The message said the word "theory" needed to be added after every mention of the Big Bang.

The Big Bang is "not proven fact; it is opinion," Mr. Deutsch wrote, adding, "It is not NASA's place, nor should it be to make a declaration such as this about the existence of the universe that discounts intelligent design by a creator."

It continued: "This is more than a science issue, it is a religious issue. And I would hate to think that young people would only be getting one-half of this debate from NASA. That would mean we had failed to properly educate the very people who rely on us for factual information the most."


In other words, a wet-behind-the-ears party-machine-hack journalism major is telling scientists what is and isn't politically correct.

The president has recently begun touting a new effort to encourage math and science education. Besides the irony of a jock of mediocre scholastic achievement pushing education . . . am I the only one who suspects that any funding that this new initiative brings will come with ideological strings attached?

palliard said...

Perhaps it would be more profitable to attack I.D. on deterministic, rather than empirical grounds.

The last time I took a philosophy class, we called it the "Scientific Angel" hypothesis and posed it thus: if you suppose that, back at the beginning of the universe, there was a scientific angel that took note of the position and state of every particle in the universe... if he ran that forward in time, using whatever maths were necessary, would he be able to predict that I'd be typing this right now?

If he can, then you don't have "free will", you're just a pile of particles destined to do your part in the big scheme of things.

If he can't, then the whole idea of "design" falls apart, because the results aren't predictable. It'd be like "designing" a Jackson Pollack painting.

Yeah, it's a pedantic argument... but we're arguing with the "so tell me what happened before the Big Bang, egghead" crowd. *sigh*

Kagehi said...

Actually, I barely noticed that side bar before. And yeah, some of it is definitely directed at Christianity, but what do you expect it to be directed at, the Holy Chruch of Elvis? This is a primarilly Christian nation, the single most common offenses against science come from Christians. When people comment about attacks against them, or the silly thinking of people "in" religions, which one do you think they are most likely to imply? Duh!

PZ read the post, got royally pissed off, probably never read any of the explanations Card might have made for the nature of characters in some of some of his books, so made a stupid comment that wasn't true, based on the projection that this was the authors personal views, and I am fairly sure he never went back to see Card's retraction. His reaction to the retraction would probably have been similar to mine, "not enough, since it still presumes validity of the basic idea." It took several more posts to clear up that Card and others meant old-ID, not new-ID. Likely PZ would still, based on his knowledge, find the idea unsupportable, but not actually part of an evil religious conspiracy.

And as I said, one of his more recent articles talks about how people like you might be right that friendly fire isn't going to help the cause, even if he does personally think religion = delusion. But that would require reading more posts on there, specifically this one:

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/02/curtsinger_on_creationism.php

Wasn't PZ commenting on the dangers of being overly agressive actually, but he didn't make one of his usual comments about how pandering to fools helps them, like he has on a few cases where its been brought up. I don't think he disagrees in principle, just this is "his" blog, so he is going to state "his" opinion about religion in general, even if in specific he tolerates the sane ones.

Kagehi said...

Oh, and yeah. Read about the dipstick at NASA too. He is right, he *is* trying to make it a religious issue, which is why he has no say in what should be taught. Apparently he isn't smart enough to figure that out from the last trial(s).

Some people are saying NASA is no longer competent to run space research, now they can add to that, "no longer competent to teach science, instead of pandering to religion". :( Pretty damn sad.

Rob Perkins said...

Well, I suppose this means I'll have to take a representative sample of Dawkins' work and actually read it.

(In spite of being fond of the ideas behind memetics and annoyed at the ideas behind "brights", I'd not known that much about Dawkins.)

I'm open to suggestions about which of Dawkins' work is representative, and short enough to be possible for a father of five with a day job to do.

Kagehi, the quotation sidebar there rankles even though most of the comments are directed at the traditional Christian faiths, because of the broad brush people like Myers paint. For example, in the comment section from the article you linked, we read from Myers:

"Same with religion. It's OK for people to choose to be religious, and some people may be incapable of being irreligious...but let's face facts. For most people, it's a case of casual excess, bad habits, and the easy availability of the empty calories of superstitious nonsense. "

It makes someone like me feel unwelcome. This does it moreso (not from Myers):

"No, it is not OK for people to choose to believe in God. By any objective standard, religion is a form of mental illness and those who suffer from it deserve treatment."

Most of the time stuff like that latter comment I can just shrug off as teenageish rageing. But if that sort of meme *ever* took power, well, it's not far from there to actually implementing incarceration policies to keep the "religious" out of society, "for their own good", and you don't have to look farther back than the 1930's and 1940's for deeply disturbing examples of non-religious regimes doing so.

...which is all the sadder, since I agree with Myers on almost every point he makes as re Intelligent Design and what to do about it. I continue to be left wondering *why* people choose to enlighten by giving insult, instead of finding the rare thing that will enlighten through inspiration and excitement.

Perhaps the latter is just too hard for most people.

Anonymous said...

Dawkin's shortest book is quite good and serves as a good overview of many of his ideas. It is "River out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life" and was written as part of the Science Masters series from Weidenfield & Nicolson, London (1995). I use a number of passages in evolutionary biology lectures that I give.

Anonymous said...

Climbing Mount Improbable is also quite good, and readable a chapter at a time.

redkitty said...

"The Blind Watchmaker" is an interesting read, and specifically addresses the ID argument.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0393315703/qid=1139298523/sr=2-1/ref=pd_bbs_b_2_1/002-4678691-6550421?s=books&v=glance&n=283155

Nicole Tedesco said...

So Dave, you're a Republican now, eh? Welcome to the Dark Side! ;-)

Sounds like you've done it for the same reasons I did--there are some ideas I like but a lot I did not. I figured it best to try to influence from the inside, not be a non-issue on the outside as an "Independent" or modern Libertarian. Besides, by the mid-80s, I really disliked the direction the Democrats were going more than I disliked the Republican platform. Also, at the time, the only friends I had who would actually talk logically about anything political were Republicans.

Fifteen years later, nothing has changed in the Democrat party but I do know that the Republican party actually has a lot of "young" people like me in it who are now coming into their own and influencing real world politics. I am glad to see some of those "logical" friends of mine now directly helping Republicans run for office and, perhaps, someday in the not too distant future, will try to run on their own. I personally may not be running for office, but I have an influence on friends of mine who dream of doing so someday. We exchange ideas. We have helped shape each other's approach to life.

I feel I have done the right thing, while my die hard Democrat friends have just continued to spiral into conspiracy theory, pseudotheory and nonsense.